The inevitable client-side deadline slips had resulted in that perfect storm where everything came due at once. But I juggled, worked miracles, made everyone happy and, with great relief, made it to the weekend.
On Friday night, we were out with some friends that we hadn’t seen in months. The conversation drifted to the kids, as it tends to do.
“You’re so lucky that you don’t work,” she said.
I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.
“I work!” I protested. “Just this week I closed out a major project with a multinational corporation….”
“Oh, I didn’t mean it like that,” she said. “I just meant that you don’t, you know, work.”
My Philly snark and sarcasm came flying out with a vengeance. “Oh, of course!” I said. “Running my own business is nothing like working in an office like you do.”
“Right!” she said, completely missing the point and seeming visibly relieved that I finally understood.
Thank goodness that our waitress interrupted us before I completely lost my composure.
Freelancers, independents… whatever you call us, our role in the world economy seems to be vastly misunderstood. Sure, our clients count on us to deliver miracles on time and on budget, but the rest of the world? What is it that they think we do all day long?
So I asked another friend. She shrugged. “Honestly, I don’t have any idea what my friends really do. One is the executive of somethingorother and travels a ton. Another does something with computers, but I really don’t understand what.” She thought for a moment. “But then again, nobody really understands what I do, either.”
Then she delivered the kicker: “You know, nobody would question it if you were a guy. Everyone assumes that guys work. Women… well, you have a kid. I think there’s an assumption that you don’t work.”
And she might be right. If I were a man, would my friend have suggested that I “don’t work”?
Do men who work from home deal with the same misconceptions?